The Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, has shared his thoughts on the challenging issues within his portfolio at a civil service management forum being held today (August 27).
Speaking on day two of the four-day forum, 'A world-class government for Asia's world city', Mr Suen said he was particularly conscious in his new role of the significant and long-term impacts of decisions on the quality of life of the community.
"Let me give you some example of issues, from within my own portfolio, that I hope all of you, not just those in my own bureau and its departments, will be able to contribute to in the coming months and years," he said.
"Now that Government's public housing programme will soon reach its 50th anniversary and that we have provided assisted housing for about half of the population, what should be our role and policy objectives for the future?
"Should we continue to increase the number, or proportion of people assisted? Should we instead focus on the most needy? Or should we place greater emphasis on quality? If we are to continue to subsidise housing, how do we deliver the subsidy?
"Government is regularly accused of maintaining a high land price policy. It is undeniable that the treasury has benefited enormously over the years from land revenue. Where should Government stand in the supply of land? How should we value the cost of land? What are the likely impacts?"
Mr Suen said the purpose of the management forum was to raise awareness about such complicated issues so civil servants could make better informed decisions.
"The answers to these questions are not expected today. But they do illustrate the complexity of the tasks ahead, the appreciation of which should be reinforced by today's discussions," he said.
"Turning the community's wishes into reality requires a world-class government. It must be clear that all of us have a role to play.
"With the introduction of the new accountability system, the community looks to the Government for more speedy response to public aspirations and for the senior echelons of the Government to be subjected to a higher degree of accountability.
"All public servants, whether involved in developing new services or pursuing best practices in the delivery of old services, whether senior managers or front line staff, must contribute to the formulation of the goals that need to be set.
"Once established, it is essential that the whole team that makes up the civil service gives its support.
"This should be manifested in practical ways, with every individual identifying, and doing, what he can to achieve the common goals."
Mr Suen said he hoped the management forum would help civil servants achieve a common understanding of the community's needs and aspirations, how these tied in with being a world city and what those working in government needed to do in policy and practice to help it achieve them.
He said civil servants would need to address the challenges and opportunities of the changing local, regional and global economic orders.
These included globalisation, China's accession to the WTO, the ever-increasing pace of technological development and the need for life-long learning.
The management forum - 'A world-class government for Asia's world city - has been organised by the Efficiency Unit, under the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office.
About 14,000 middle and senior ranking civil servants will take part in eight sessions between August 26 and 29.
Ends/Tuesday, August 27, 2002